To redefine the classics is always an interesting step in any artist’s career. Many are trained by copying the greats (be that in acting, dancing, painting, photography or otherwise) – but then to take their work and make it yours? That takes gall, and courage. And a thick skin.
I just read a review of the opening of “Swan Lake” as performed by one of the premiere dance companies – the New York City ballet (they just got back from their summer hiatus in Saratoga Springs). It wasn’t so shiny happy. Alastair Macaulay introduces the actual performance of “Swan Lake” thus:
What an odd staging this “Swan Lake” is. Mr. Martins, who first presented it for City Ballet in 1999, has applied more intelligence to making it unlike other “Swan Lake” productions than to making it good. All too often it looks bad on purpose.
Ouch. Generally the review is a dismal portrayal of the current state of the ballet, in both the performance and the actual practices of the theater.
Not even some of the best regarded artists are free from criticism when attempting to reinvent the familiar. What about everyone else? I’d be curious to hear what your stance is on reinventing the familiar and the great performances or pieces of art that belong to your specialty. Do you dare? Do you toe the line? Do you boldly act like that line in the sand isn’t even there?
image courtesy of the New York Times